MORAHALOM, Hungary — A fence along Hungary's border with Serbia to stem the flow of migrants will be completed by December, a Hungarian official said Thursday.
Defense Minister Csaba Hende said 900 people will be working to install the 4-meter (13 foot) high fence along the 175-kilometer (109-mile) border.
"The Hungarian defense force is ready to complete this task," Hende said near the southern town of Morahalom.
Interior Minister Sandor Pinter said inmates in Hungarians prisons were already assembling the basic elements of the fence and unemployed workers could also help if needed. He said the fence is the only immediate solution Hungary could find to stop the flow of migrants — which stands at 81,300 already this year.
After talks Thursday with Romania's president, Serbian President Tomislav Nikolic described Hungary's move to build the fence as an "unfortunate decision" prompted by the migrant crisis.
Speaking in Budapest, Janos Lazar, head of the prime minister's office, said Hungary would set up temporary tent camps in rural areas to accommodate the large number of asylum seekers and seek to close its regular migrant housing.
He also said the government would also seek to make an illegal border crossing a crime. It is now a minor offense.
"This is a clear message to human traffickers," Lazar said. "It will be much more difficult, expensive and risky to head toward Hungary."
Prime Minister Viktor Orban says Hungary does not want any migrants from outside Europe. But over the past months, 80 percent of the refugees requesting asylum in Hungary have come from war-torn countries like Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan. Most leave within days to richer European Union countries like Germany before their asylum claims are settled.
Pablo Gorondi in Budapest, Hungary, and Jovana Gec in Belgrade, Serbia, contributed to this report.